Marc Marquez is the fastest MotoGP rider I’ve ever seen. When I saw him ride a MotoGP bike for the first time (Austin pre-race test 2014) I said then that I wished there was something more that Marquez could accomplish. There was no question in my mind that he would win MotoGP titles and frankly any other world championship title he desired. MotoGP? No problem. World Superbike? No problem. In the same season? Not out of the question. After seeing him ride those days in TX, I suggested to Julian Ryder that if the universe really wanted to challenge Marc Marquez then we all needed to think much more broadly. Like, send him to the ISS for a week before a race, and then have him return and race while he renews his relationship with gravity. Because the usual 200 mph and crashing and managing of talent vs resources vs timing that fully tasks every other rider in their work life seems like things that barely task that Marquez guy.
Watching the chain of events from grid to race today you knew the potential for fireworks was very great. Marquez is a rider who feeds off adversity. When his bike dies in qualifying and he needs to leap a wall or he crashes 25 times a season or things of that nature occur you can see that he sees that he sees it as ‘here is something of a real challenge’. So his bike dies on the grid with the minute board out? These are times when Marquez, and you can see it in his body language, just becomes everything that he is inside. Talent, desire, skill at levels no one has ever displayed before in motorcycle racing.
When Marquez finished his ride through penalty he saw the tail end of the MotoGP pack go by as he exited the pit lane. That glimpse was probably the last nugget he needed for motivation.
What lay between Marquez and this chapter of “no frickin’ way” were a bunch of rookie MotoGP riders and older riders some of them on bikes they hate even when it’s dry. Some are scared and just trying to survive riding a 240 horsepower bike on a semi wet surface. Racing in not really wet not really dry sucks and after a week in Rio you’ve had enough.
Marquez did his water through a screen door stuff, but the very real and valid concerns of ordinary riders are not anything he really knows. This is a race and he is here to win. Risky passes and ‘I’m sorry’ waves ensued.
There was an actual period of reflection for Marquez for a part of his run to the podium–after he biffed one rider you could see Marquez let off and ride with his left arm on the tank for a short while. But then it became too much for him and he unleashed again, this time he pushed Rossi into the grass where nine-time quickly crashed. Rossi admitted after the race that when he sees that Marquez is behind him in a race he becomes afraid for his safety.
Marquez was penalized after the race for his actions. Someone at Repsol Honda decided he should go to Rossi’s Yamaha garage to apologize. And who to go with him? Any number of Japanese HRC managers (Tetsuhiro Kuwata) so that the gesture would be interpreted as a curt bow from a sporting rival and gentlemen? No, just to insure that this would go badly they send the polarizing–at best–figure of HRC team manager Alberto Puig with Marquez.
Rossi’s crew are fiercely loyal and protective. When Italians stand like that–with their feet slightly spread apart and shoulders back–smart people feel the hair go up on their neck and beat it. The visit did not go well, with Puig finally getting the hint to leave just as Rossi’s crew were preparing for their next move.
Marquez is the biggest talent that roadracing has ever seen. It’s got to be a frustrating situation to know that you are capable of so much but at the same time to have to realize that you need to adhere to the sporting code and not knock people off the racing line just because they are slower than you/stalling your latest date with great destiny.
Like Uncle Ben said in Spider Man “With great power comes great responsibility”.